Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Break

The bell ringing at the end of the day today marked the beginning of our spring break. I've got travel plans as usual and will board a plane tomorrow afternoon to start a much-needed vacation.
Still, I'll miss my kids and my colleagues. I feel like I'm in a good place right now. As I last posted, that doesn't happen much this time of year. It's that golden quarter where you get to be a real teacher and not have to worry about whether or not what you're teaching is preparing your students for a standardized test.
In fact, the social action unit I started this past week is one I'm convinced is preparing my students for a more important test - when faced with a chance to act on a social issue about which they feel strongly, will they participate?
First period was interesting today.
A reporter came to speak with 6 of my kids who have been participating in a pilot young screenwriters program through the Sarasota Film Festival. Beginning in January, these students have shown up Tuesday and Thursdays after school and crafted their ideas in to real and true screenplays.
What's funny is the fact this group does not follow the traditional 20%/80% rule where 20% of your students account for 80% of your school organization membership. This is a cross of students with stories to tell.
Screenplays complete and the festival fast approaching, these students will soon be recognized for their work.
Today was a taste of that. They sat in my classroom and were asked questions about their creative process and whether or not they wanted to write another screenplay. The thing is - in the course of participating in this program - three of them have decided to write books. One of them has decided he would like to produce his screenplay as well as star in it.
It's a connection that could not have been made in a traditional test-prep classroom. No 5-paragraph essay would fit these students' visions. They worked without complaint, some taking their journals home to sculpt their ideas on their own time.
This is the spirit of learning I hope to foster and cultivate in all of my students in the Golden Quarter. I feel we're well on our way.
Any week where you get to begin to explain communism to 8th graders, examine the meaning, causes and effects of bigotry, and hear students point out the much stronger case for non-violent vs. violent social action, it's a good week to be a teacher.
More later.


Paul Wilkinson said...

Enjoy the well earned break. We have two weeks until our Easter break. Can't wait for the break but I'm still enjoying the social action projects underway in our class.

If your film makers are interested point them to

these are a series of short films made over four days in the Christmas holidays.


Jason said...

I too had a good week, am ready for break, but more importantly, I can share in the sentiment that I am in a good place right now and I enjoy my job. I did not get a chance to tell you, but I really enjoyed switching places on Thursday.

For those wondering what I am talking about, Mr. Chase came into my room and helped my students' with bibliography citations for their Post-Black History Month research projects. While Mr. Chase was in my room, I went over and taught his kids background information on Communism and answered any questions that they had. When I was finished with his last period, they clapped and one student followed me into my room to borrow a copy of Animal Farm. That was probably one of the better days that I ever had teaching.